Getting Excited For SIGGRAPH 2013

I’m doing that thing where one try’s to do a million things at once, like some kind of human blender taking the tiniest of chunks out of each task as I pass by. So, work is getting done, but is this the most efficient I can be? Probably not. Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick obligatory getting excited for SIGGRAPH 2013 post.

Getting to SIGGRAPH has been a lifelong dream of mine ever since this time last year when I first heard about it. Yeah, call me green but being utterly obsessed with CGI (and a life-long pure blooded technophile) I have developed enough knowledge to get myself all excited about new software, tools and techniques, even if I don’t always understand the finer details. Well, replace “don’t always” with “a little bit frequently”. Also, I’m a window drooler. Yep, I can’t afford to even consider 99% of the software and hardware in these shows.

SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival

So, suffice to say I won’t even be getting to SIGGRAPH, unless by some awesome luck I get rich quick. In which case I’ll see you in Hong Kong. Ok, that’s enough rambling. The primary reason I started this post was to share the very spiffy SIGGRAPH 2013 Computer Animation Festival preview video, but alas it is presented in a custom player I can’t embed here. Of course, you can follow the link to feast your eyes. I did manage to find last years, which in my humble opinion, doesn’t have the same omphf, but still exciting all the same.

Real-Time Live

Also looking like it will be an absolute nerdy blast is the Real-Time Live presentations.
Real-time technologies are developing and emerging at a spectacular rate and giving us visual feedback that once would have been thought impossible. State of the art graphics, animation, dynamics, radiosity, huge poly counts – all these things are going real-time in a big way. Can you feel an interactive RT revolution coming? Perhaps in the near future these technologies will be the exact sort of thing that will be testing our new super-fast broadband infrastructures we’re building.

LightWave: Join The Rebellion

And finally, SIGGRAPH is one of those dates that all the 3D graphics software nuts get very excited. It is that time when many of the modelling, animation, and rendering players unveil the next salvo of upgrades. Of course, a key focus, for me, will be on finding out what NewTek/LightWave are up to. It’s something! We want to know now, but we’ll have to wait for an announcement made later this month at the Anaheim, California convention. The below promo poster was uploaded to the LightWave FB page on the 29th of June. LightWave 12? 11.6? Something huge and exciting? If I can get some new modelling tools I’ll be happy enough.

Getting Started With LightWave Cheaply

LightWave logoLightWave licence transfers and upgrades – quick, easy, cheap.

Thanks to NewTek’s liberal licence transfer and upgrade policies gettings started with LightWave for less than the standard retail is quite easy. If you’re lucky or patient you can get going with LightWave very cheaply. But first let me start by offering those of you that don’t know much about the program a few reasons why I think it is so great.

On why I think LightWave rocks

LightWave is a great 3D modelling, animation and rendering package, and it has quickly become my tool of choice. This is largely because it has solid modelling tools, a great easy to navigate interface, a fast and competent render engine, a strong community with lots of resources (such as tutorials and free plugins), and the program is relatively inexpensive when compared to the many of the other big name applications. Since releases 10, 11 and the recent LightWave 11.5 it seems clear that NewTek are dedicated to a bigger, better, stronger, faster program that is better able to deliver results and go toe-to-toe with its larger rivals (did I just write a marketing pitch?).

I haven’t even mentioned the rigid and soft body dynamics, particle system, amazing rigging tools such as Genoma, real-time Raytrace preview, instancing, and a powerful node based material editor. Oh, and I forgot to mention it is big with TV. See YouTube vid below for a taste.

But for me in particular I am very happy that NT seem to be indicating there will be some attention to updating their modelling tools in the coming releases. 11.5 brought in some of the time saving goodies that have been kicking around for some time in other apps. The addition of UV seam unwrapping in 11.5 is also a much needed addition to the program’s ancient mapping tools – as much as hardcore LW ninjas swear by their complex black magic. I hope to see more modelling and UV tools and enhancements included in 12.

…but let’s move onto why we’re really here

The final kicker that got me hooked into LightWave was that when it comes to upgrade policies and licence transfers NewTek is very accommodating. Far more so than many other software companies. I doubt this has much to do with the goodness of NewTek’s heart, as holy as it doubtlessly is, but just one small part of their strategy to earn some market share. Whatever the reasons for NT’s liberal policies, it is a definite win for starving artists, and hobbyists. Any version of LightWave, back as far as version 5, can be upgraded for the same price as it would cost to upgrade from 9, or 10. That’s right, you can use a copy of LW that’s almost 2 decades old to get started. Put this up against upgrade policies like what you get from E-on or Autodesk, or just about any software house out there and you can’t fail to appreciate just how great this deal is.

lightwave object fracture and bullet dynamics

All image elements created with LightWave 11.5

Finding a licence or copy for the right price

This is how I got my start with LightWave. I had a chance to pick up version 5 off eBay but given that I wanted to be able to use the program right out of the box without having to upgrade, I wasn’t willing to spend much on such an archaic copy that would have to be upgraded right away. Again, NewTek are very generous with their upgrade price, but it was more than I could afford it at the time. I tried to haggle with the seller, but what I was willing to pay probably just made them laugh. Eventually I stumbled upon a section in the LightWave forum that is actually dedicated to selling unwanted/disused licences. That’s right, not only does NewTek allow users to transfer licences, but they actively encourage it. So, from time-to-time you can pick up older versions of LW for very good prices.

The very same seller that had those LightWave 5 copies up on E-bay is still there trying to unload them. The current price is currently US $335 which, if you’re only looking for an upgrade pathway, is very reasonable. If, like me, you’re after something to use out of the box it would be best to stay clear unless you have a machine running DOS and Windows 95. Of course I can’t say with full confidence that these copies are free from molestation, and still have their dongles intact (yes they are actually called dongles), but the seller has a good customer approval rating. It also says in the product description that the boxes are unopened. Presumably this means unregistered too, which simplifies things. The final good omen is that 3 copies have sold and apparently no one has had cause to call shenanigans.

In best case scenario I’ve seen a version of 8.5 go for about $180 and copies of 9.5 go for just a hundred dollars or so more.

What do you actually need?

So, all you will need to get yourself up and running from an old copy of LightWave is a serial number, hardware lock and a dongle. The dongle is USB device, and LW’s primary anti-piracy protection, which users of some other expensive software packages will already be familiar with. As of 11.03, LightWave can be used either with or without a dongle, though for an older version you will still need one for the transfer/registration process. If a user is trying to sell a pre 11.03 version without a dongle be very suspicious. Contact NewTek if you have any questions about the policy on lost dongles.

If you’re buying a licence second-hand you will need the previous owner to start the transfer process (make sure you get the support ticked number), otherwise you might have trouble convincing NewTek that you obtained the copy without resorting to nefarious means. The process is easy enough. You won’t have to do a thing except set up an account at and send them an email to let them know who you are and what’s going on (the support number probably helps here).

If you’re looking to buy a copy just to get started without the worry of the cost of upgrades I wouldn’t suggest any version before 9.6. As someone who put in some good hours lurking silently in the forums and digging through the wiki it seems stability and rendering issues plague versions before this, particularly 7 and 8. Depending on your current system there could also be compatibility issues.

Protect yourself

While scams targeting LightWave hopefuls are quite uncommon, to the extent I’ve never heard of one, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious, especially if you’re going to be handing over hundreds of dollars for a current licence. I tend to fall into the overly cautions category, so I’ll offer up some of the important things I took into account when considering my options.

Deal with the licence holder

The first thing about buying a pre-registered version of LightWave is to make sure you are dealing directly with the licence holder, as only they can put in the transfer application to NewTek. Secondly, make sure you are getting a dongle with an version before 11.03.

Deal with reliable sources

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is finding someone you can put a reasonable amount of trust in. Like with any purchase, you should try to buy only from individuals and businesses of reputation. Do they have a good customer satisfaction rating, in the case of buying off somewhere like eBay or Amazon? In the case of buying in relation to a post in a forum (anywhere), make sure the poster has been a long time member and has a good number of posts under their belt.

Of course, you can have genuine new members, and genuine long-time users who have never posted to the forums, but knowing you are dealing with someone who is invested in the community, or their business is a good tick in the plus section of your pros and cons list.

Tip – don’t gift with PayPal

If you’re paying for anything through PayPal to an individual NEVER send the money as a gift unless you entirely trust the recipient will do as they agreed. It might save you and the recipient a few dollars, but compared to that 1 or 2 or 3 or more hundred dollars you just handed over, it is nothing. A gift is a gift, and it can be very hard to prove that an explicit deal was made, and also against the terms of service for using the gift service. If you are within PayPal’s terms of service then you will be offered a certain amount of buyer security. Of course, I am not an expert in the matters of consumer protection, so I would suggest you read PayPals terms of services if you have any questions.

Paying via other means I can’t recommend as I am not certain of what protection is available. lightwave sword model by jim willey

All elements modelled and textured in LightWave

Dongle drivers and hardware lock issues.

One issue I encountered while trying to get LightWave 9.6 up and running was a hardware lock error (yes the dongle was inserted) when trying to run the program. According to NewTek this is a known problem for Windows XP users. I run Win 7, so the problem has persisted for at least some of the users. If you encounter this it can most likely be remedied by going to Sentinel Drivers download page on Safenet’s website. You will be looking for the latest Sentinel Protection Installer – SuperPro being the specific drivers you need.


If you’re a student why not save yourself all the hassle and probable extra expense and simply opt for a Student license, which is obtainable directly from the LightWave site for $195.

Bringing life to LightWave

Thanks to the PoserFusion plugin for LightWave (free for Poser Pro holders – 2014 plugin coming soon) you can import animated, posed, fully equipped characters from your Poser Runtime to LightWave. Need a crowd to mill about your architectural visualisation or Sci-fi and fantasy environments? Use Poser’s walk design tools to fully animate just this. PoserFusion makes it easy to bring any number of Poser animations to LightWave – quick and easy. Poser 10 and Pro 2014 full and upgrade are still on sale till the end of the month.

Ron Deviney Brushes 70% Off Flash Sale

Rons Devinery brushesSo there were now Genesis 2 or Victoria 6 releases today, but we got a nice gift (those that bought/buy into the pro bundle), and the first one that I will probably actually use. There was an 8 hour sale of Stonemason’s City Ruins 3, which has already gone, but an even more awesome sale has taken its place. Anyone for some of Ron Deviney brush sets?

Just about everyone in the Poserverse knows and loves the Deviney range of Photoshop brushes. I’ve used these to create textures and postwork many of my images, and in that time I’ve only scratched the surface with the diversity of brush sets and the many different techniques that can be applied. I remember thinking when I was first starting out with DS that Rons brushes could turn anyone into an artist, and in my case it seems to have worked 😀

Anyway, DAZ describe this as a flash sale, so it probably won’t last long. If you’ve been itching to grab that set or three of brushes then now is the time. Also worth checking out is the massive new Dreamlight prop/environment bundle. even if you own one or two of these it would still be worth picking up on special – the total saving for the bundle is over $130.

DAZ3D’s Genesis 2 and Victoria 6 Review

Looking for Victoria 7 review?
Michael 6/Genesis 2 M review

Genesis 2 ProDAZ3D’s regenesis or devolution?

After much speculation since the first hint of Genesis 2 and Victoria 6 on the 13th of June the release has finally happened. Users are just as divided between the excited, neutral and angry camps as it was during the week long silent build up. Well played DAZ3D. They knew the product would be controversial, as just about everything they do seems to be, and the effect was they didn’t have to do a shred of promotion other than dropping a clanger in the store and springing an image rich, detail deficit teaser thread on their PC forum. Word spread fast and speculation ran at fevered pitch.

So, in the light of a new day as the dust begins to settle all those questions have been laid to rest. Genesis 2 comes as two base meshes; Genesis 2 Female (released), and Genesis 2 Male (presumably – yet to be released). While Victoria 6 is a purchase item the base mesh is available for free (Genesis 2 Female Starter Essentials) and can be downloaded via the DAZ 3D Install Manager or via the site from the Product Library.

For many, the move to separate male and female meshes is a backwards step. Genesis was about flexibility and universal morphing. The argument put forward for the split is that this allows for greater levels of gender specific detail that weren’t possible in a unisex mesh. I think this is a reasonable compromise. Future characters such as The Girl 5 and Freak 6 can be made from a mesh specifically designed for their gender, and we won’t have to worry about a hundred thousand fit/morph packs to put that sexy cyber suit for V6 on Aiko 6. Also, this should improve the quality of outfits as vendors will be free to make more gender specific mesh details. For those who see a universal mesh as the absolute end of 3D figure design there is hope.

Victoria 6 for Genesis 2GenX update in the works

Dimension3D intends to update his popular plugin GenX for use with Genesis 2. For those not familiar with the plugin, it allows for the conversion of morphs from previous figures to work with Genesis. Dimension3D had this to say: “I can’t give details or a release date this time, but I’m planning to add morph transfer from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2 and vice versa as well as direct transfer from generation 3 and generation 4 figures to Genesis 2.”

Genesis is going to be able to access morphs for Genesis 2? This will undoubtedly make a lot of G1 diehards very happy, and all at the same time create a work-around for G 2’s inability to mix male and female morphs. Well, undoubtedly a male morph could be created for G2 Female but being able to bring G1’s flexibility to G2 will be very useful and save time and money for those situations where close enough is good enough. Of course I could be reading too much in to this, but it sounds like Dimension3D is gearing up to effectively merge Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 while bridging the gap between G2 Female and male.

Until such a day as we are graced with an updated GenX there are other approaches to consider. Some users have already created male characters by mixing various morphs – see pg. 35 of the Genesis 2 preview thread.


Out of the box Genesis 2 has auto-fit capabilities for Genesis content, but a separate product (Victoria 4 for Genesis 2 Female) needs to be purchased to fit V4 clothing and textures. This has been one point in particular that has caused angst among users whether, as of yet, they have bought in or not. Presumably fits for other popular figures will be added as additional purchases, as they were with G1. The up-shot here is that, according to promo material, the V4 to G2 conversion is better than the standard V4 to G1 conversion. One significant leap here is with the fitting of V4 based shoes, particularly those with high heels. The standard G1 conversions absolutely butchered footwear, so this will undoubtedly be an important improvement for those of us who are looking for a quick and easy way fit.

V4 to Genesis 2 Auto-fit workaround

Genesis 2 victoria 4 auto-fit workaround

Genesis 2 victoria 4 auto-fit workaround

If that still isn’t enough to entice everyone then there is a work around. Load Genesis > auto-fit desired apparel > save as support asset > figure/prop asset > clear scene > load G2 > find and load the items just saved > auto-fit as usual

The fit won’t be perfect and will likely require a smoothing modifier to cover good ol’ fashion poke.

Genesis 2 Poser Compatibility

poser dson test

Genesis 2 in Poser via DSON

DSON is still the only easy way to get a poseable Genesis 2 into Poser, which is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone, but still disappointing none the less. This comes with all the boons and dooms of the past Genesis/DSON deal, such as the slowdown experienced while using Genesis/DSON content in Poser Pro 2012/9. Thankfully there is an easy fix for this which a surprising number of users still don’t know about. Simply turn subdivision off in the Scripts > DSON Support menu. In any case working with Genesis in Poser is still a slower process than working with other figures such as the Gen 4 DAZ3D figures. This could be a very different experience for Poser Pro 2014/10 with the advances made since the 2012/9 releases, such as the support for the subdivision methods utilised by Genesis 2. I can’t test the theory, but will update this as soon as I find out.

Compatibility with older DAZ Studio versions

Genesis 2 uses the newer .DUF file format and other new technologies such as weight maps, and as such is not compatible with versions of pre 4.5 versions outside an exported .obj, but this means using current versions of DS anyway.

G2 is compatible to the fullest extent only with DS 4.6x, but will work just fine in 4.5 versions (so I hear) but without the new surface/materials. Luckily it comes with legacy materials, so should be fine but might need a little tweaking.

The experience for most people updating from DS 4.5 to 4.6 has mostly been positive, but there has been some report of issues. OS users seem to have got a better deal with this update than has been the case with previous DS updates. With the new advances in DS since 4.5 it is certainly worth testing out, and since 4 or 3X the progress has been huge – not least of which include significant 3Delight upgrades.

Value for money bundles?

Without a doubt the bundles look pretty good. You get some very nice hair props and texture sets (one comes with the basic V6 product) with the Victoria 6 Starter Bundle, and the outfits, one fantasy and the other, a party dress offer a nice bit of diversity and will likely find use with a lot of users. The Pose sets are always useful when you want to do a quick render or if you want to do something more significant and need some inspiration.

The Victoria 6 Pro Bundle is the same again X2!  The quality of the products is of the same or similar quality and will find use in a wide variety of situations. The included outfits are not my cup-o tea, but there might be some texture magic I can pull for my own tastes – something sci-fi!  The hair props and included textures sets are great with lots of mat varieties. Love the fashion hair – everyone loves a bob! Who’s with me? Oh I forgot to mention, the pro bundle has the genitals (must remember the genitals *note*). The texture sets are by well-known and adored artists such as Silver and Countess (yay for tattoos).

No maps!

no maps

Victoria 6 on left with default textures, and Genesis 2 with Bree textures on right. Maps make a difference!

…but where are the Sub Surface Scattering maps? Unless I’m missing something none of the four included texture sets have SSS maps! There are SSS settings, one of them comes with three… but maps? What is maps? Eh, no one on the forums seems to mind this too much, which has me kind of puzzled. If I could just chuck a V5 map in there with my V6 ones I wouldn’t be so confused or disturbed, but we can’t. Maybe this is just me being some kind of SSS lunatic? People seem to be more concerned with a slight fluctuation in the percentage of the sale price.  Of course a little tweaking can fix up a bright red over powered SSS, but you will only get the fine subtlety and control with proper texture maps (so maybe I should just go make one!).

Genesis is the prize

For me the real value of the package comes in the base Genesis 2 figure, and for those of us who can’t sculpt/morph their way out of a wet paper bag, the Victoria 6 morph. The greater level of detail in the geometry is fantastic. The extra detail in the joints as they bend looks a lot more realistic, and all for the cost of a mere 2000 extra polygons. New weight maps and greater articulation in the jaw, ears, breasts, joints etc gives greater realism when posing.

I think Genesis 2 represents quality over quantity, but with the current discounts on the bundles you certainly get both. DAZ probably could have mitigated a good deal of angst by working out a deal to get the V4 morphs into the starter or pro bundle, especially as many Genesis users take it for granted (and why shouldn’t we?). While we’re talking about morphs again I think adding the morph bundle to the pro product would have been a nice touch, but DAZ have certainly been a shrewd with their content/sales strategy this time around. The lack of morphability at this point in the base G2 product feels very un-Genesisish, but if you’re willing to spend the money you can get a very good product. In any case, I look forward to seeing how the figure develops and what the content creators cook up for us.